Essay - Privatization of the Prison System and the Impact of the...


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PRIVATIZATION OF THE PRISON SYSTEM AND THE IMPACT OF THE DIFFERENTIATION OF SENTENCING IN POWDER VERSUS CRACK COCAINE OFFENSE AND THE ***** ON AFRICAN AMERICAN OFFENDERS

I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE POLICY

In 1986 and 1988, the U.S. Congress passed federal sentencing laws related to crack cocaine that differentiated the sentences imposed upon defendants in powder and ***** cocaine ***** offenses in what is known as ***** 'Anti-Drug Abuse Act of **********. These stricter sentenc*****g guidelines were p*****sed to address the emerging issue of crack cocaine which was perceived to be."..a social menace that ***** categorically different from powder cocaine in its physiological and psychotropic effects." Crack cocaine is powder cocaine mixed with banking soda ***** then cooked into hard rocks, which are then broken up into smaller pieces and sold to those who use the drug by smoking it. Crack cocaine is cheaper than powder ***** and aroused great public concern when it first hit the streets in the United States. According ***** Alfred Blumstein ***** Carnegie Mellon University, as reported by Coyle (2002) in the work entitled: "Race and Class Penalties in Crack Cocaine Sentencing" crack cocaine began as an innovation in the drug market "crack distribution rights *****d boundaries were apportioned amongst competitors with the use of violence." (Coyle, 2002) The follow*****g table relates the median street-level dealer ***** quantities and m*****atory minimum imposed by the Anti-Drug Act of 1986.

***** Street-Level Drug Quantities and M*****atory Minimums

*****

***** Drug Weight

Mandatory Minimum

Crack Cocaine

52 grams

10 years

Powder Cocaine

340 grams

Source: Coyle (2002

Congress created the United ***** Sentencing Commission in 1984 for the purpose of developing federal sentencing guidelines for ***** purpose of bringing about a reduction ***** sentencing disparity. By 1994 in alliance with provisions set out ***** the Omnibus Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the Commission was instructed to conduct a study rel*****ting to different penalties in powder- and *****-cocaine *****. ***** study lasted the duration of one year ***** recommendations by the Commission to ***** U.S. Congress to revise the crack/powder 100:1 sentencing disparity due to findings that due to ***** small differences in the two forms of coca*****e that such sentencing disparities were not justifiable. Commission advised an equalization (1:1) of the quantity ratio that would require m*****a*****ry ***** relating to the two forms of cocaine. Commission ***** included advisement that guidelines in ***** sentencing should be based upon criteria other than the type ***** drug for determination of ***** lengths ***** sentences. These recommendations ***** rejected by the U.S. Congress along with refusal ***** make changes to ***** law and ***** in fact the first such move ***** the history of the United States Sentencing ***** since its' *****mation. Once again, recommendations were made in April 1997 regarding the disparity in ***** between crack- and powder-cocaine that the *****ial sentencing should be balanced through provision of a range of 2:1 to 15:1 for ***** to choose ***** among. This new recommendation "was based on both raising

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